Jesse Haworth's interest in Egyptology probably began in 1877, when the novelist Amelia B. Edwards published her best seller, "A 1000 Miles Up the Nile". Haworth and his wife read the book and were soon recreating Amelia Edwards' journey. They repeated the journey in 1882 and upon their return they began supporting Egyptology in Manchester with earnest.
Jesse Haworth was a partner in the Manchester firm of James Dilworth and Sons and was a highly esteemed businessman and one of the longest established members of the Royal Exchange in the city. As well as sponsoring Egyptology, he also collected paintings and Wedgwood ceramics.
In the early 1886 Petrie was in the process of setting up his own archaeological body that would be independent of the Egypt Exploration Fund (now Society). With his original source of funding no longer available, Amelia Edwards, a long time supporter of Petrie and now a good friend of the Haworth's, mediated and Haworth offered to fund Petrie's excavations without conditions. Miss Edwards informed Petrie that Haworth did "not want to plunder and he wishes to be kept out of sight, and not be mentioned in any way."
Petrie also recalls this period in his autobiography "While in England, I heard that the offer of help in excavating came from Jesse Haworth of Manchester, though the kind intervention of Miss Edwards. Just at the same time, I had an offer of assistance from Martyn Kennard who had a family interest in Egypt. Nevertheless, I did not wish to pledge my time to be entirely at the service of anyone. The plan, which worked very smoothly, was that I drew on my two friends for all the costs of workmen and transport, while I paid all my expenses. In return, we equally divided all that came to England. Thus it was in my interest to fund as much as I could."
In 1890 Jesse Haworth and Martyn Kennard presented their collection of objects from Kahun, and another Fayoum town site Gurob, to The Manchester Museum. In 1912 with the collection rapidly expanding, Haworth made a substantial contribution to the building fund to primarily house the Egyptian collections. In recognition of his generosity, and of his position as one of the first patrons of scientific excavation in Egypt, The University of Manchester conferred upon Jesse Haworth the honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.
In 1919, Jesse Haworth donated a further £10, 000 to the museum, and under the terms of his Will, in 1921, he bequeathed to it £30, 000 and his private collection of Egyptian Antiquities.
Before his death in 1920, Haworth approved plans for a third stage of the Museum building which would provide a further display area as well as much-needed workrooms and a storage space for the collection. His widow opened this extension in November 1927.